Nordic Wonders of Wild Camping
Without a doubt, the best thing about camping is the freedom it offers, together with the unrivalled bliss of being ‘at one’ with the great outdoors. Wild Camping (or ‘free’ camping), gives you a taste of adventure that organised campsites simply can’t compete with; however many people are concerned about where they are or aren’t allowed to pitch up for the night.
If you are new to the concept of wild camping, wary about receiving a fine or being woken up in the dead of night by an irate landowner, you’ll be happy to know that there a few places around the globe that actually encourage adventurous visitors to camp freely wherever they roam.
The Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland all advocate the traditional concept of ‘right to access’. What this means is that hikers, cyclists, skiers and horse riders are free wander to their hearts content through public and private land, as well as lay down their head for the night without fear of reprimand. This right also extends to motor homes and caravans, allowing drivers to stop over in lay-bys and designated parking areas overnight.
Whether seeking adventure in Norwegian Lapland or the Arctic Coast, one thing is for sure – you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning camping spots. In Norway, snow clad mountains, frozen lakes and pristine forests all combine to create the epitome of natural wonder.
There are very few restrictions in Norway regarding where you can wild camp. You can put up a tent or park your motor home for up to twenty-four hours, pretty much anywhere you like, be that on top of a mountain or deep in the forest. If you do fancy staying longer than one night however, simply ask the permission of the landowner. So long as you agree not to disturb the peace or damage the land, then they are likely to welcome you with open arms.
As for what you may want to get up to during the day; there are fjords, rivers and lakes where you can try your luck at fishing; mountains and forest trails for horse riding, and kayaking, rafting and alpine skiing all within a stone’s throw!
Allmansrätten or “Every Man’s Right” is one of Sweden’s greatest appeals. That and its 97,500 lakes, medieval castles and reindeer! Outdoor enthusiasts cite Sweden as one of Northern Europe’s best adventure playgrounds with more on offer than just walking and cycling. But whether you’re up for a bit of snowboarding, quad biking or sea-kayaking; it’s reassuring to know that once you’ve tired yourself out you are free to pitch up a tent and catch some well earned Zzzz uninterrupted!
The central principle of Allmansrätten is “do not disturb, do not destroy”, making the freedom to camp wild available for all to enjoy so long as you pitch your tent away from houses or farmland; respect any signage and do not drive your vehicle off-road. You can even light an open fire providing you minimise the risk of spreading. Whilst Sweden is generally associated with snow and ice, many forests and heathlands can become extremely dry during the summer so proper fire management is a must!
Everyman’s right in Finland is pretty much identical to Sweden and Norway. Campers may have free right of access to the land and waterways, as well as the right to collect natural products such as wild berries and mushrooms. There are however, various restrictions related to boating, fishing and hunting, so if you’re planning on indulging in this sort of activity, make sure that you look these up beforehand.
Winter in Finnish Lapland is unequivocally stunning – everything shimmers and shines with bright white show and if you can cope with camping out in the cold at this time of year, you’ll be able to witness one of the region’s greatest wonders. Whilst the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are fainter in Finland than they are in Norway for example; the country’s fantastic travel infrastructure makes them extremely accessible to all.
Wild camping amongst these Nordic wonders really does bring them to life and it’s difficult to think of many better ways for travellers to immerse themselves in nature. For first time free campers dipping their foot into the world of the wild, we’ve put together a few golden rules to get the most from your experience…
Golden Rules for Wild Campers
– Always follow the motto of ‘Leave No Trace’
– Do not disturb wildlife, plant life or local inhabitants (leave those Reindeer alone!)
– Ensure that you bury toilet waste and don’t bury plastic bags or other non-biodegradable products
– Avoid trespassing. Only camp on unmarked, unsigned land that is unfenced and uncultivated
– Choose a camping spot away from houses, farmland and roads
– Try not to camp in dry riverbeds or in ditches that can be prone to flooding
– Don’t build a fire where there is a risk of spreading, such as on peat or moss. Try to light your fire on sand or gravel if possible.
– Don’t overstay your welcome, leave early in the morning
– Always check local rules regarding National Parks and nature reserves as these can vary!
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